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Sydney Opera House appoints Beau James as Head of First Nations Programming

Sydney – Friday 14 May, 2021. Leading First Nations curator, producer and performer Beau James, from the Mununjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from South East Queensland with links to Stradbroke Island, has been appointed as Sydney Opera House’s new Head of First Nations Programming. Beau will lead a national and international cultural agenda, advancing and championing First Nations peoples, cultures, places, knowledge and narratives.

The Opera House’s First Nations Program was launched in 2012 by trailblazing arts curator and cultural knowledge-keeper Rhoda Roberts AO. Under Beau’s leadership, the Opera House’s year-round First Nations program will continue to celebrate the richness, diversity and vibrancy of First Nations culture.

Beau James said: “I am very excited and honoured to be stepping into the position of Head of First Nations Programming at the Opera House and continuing to build on the legacy of the brilliant Rhoda Roberts AO. I’m looking forward to programming First Nations artists and using this platform to drive real cultural change in the arts and society by truth telling for First Nations voices and increasing their visibility.

“Through all my work I strive to highlight Aboriginal culture and life within the LGBTQIA+ community by engaging with issues such as culture, race, gender, and sexuality.”

Beau will join the iconic arts venue’s internal programming team Sydney Opera House Presents, led by Fiona Winning (Director, Programming) and will work alongside other programming heads and curators, including Stuart Buchanan (Head of Digital Programming), Tamara Harrison (Head of Children, Families & Creative Learning), Micheal Do (Curator, Contemporary Art), Ben Marshall (Head of Contemporary Music), Ebony Bott (Head of Contemporary Performance) and Edwina Throsby (Head of Talks & Ideas).

Sydney Opera House Director, Programming Fiona Winning, said: “We’re delighted to welcome accomplished and internationally regarded curator, Beau James, to the Sydney Opera House Presents team. Beau’s curatorial and lived experience means that they are uniquely placed to lead our First Nations team and connect with First Nations communities as well as audiences onsite and online.”

Beau has worked as a company director, circus artist, physical theatre and cabaret performer and was the co-founder and director of their own circus company, Circus Minimus, in Brisbane for 10 years. Circus Minimus worked with Queensland based community organisations such as Mununjali Jymbi housing, Access ArtsFlipside Circus and developed shows Outside the Square and Behind Closed Bars with the youth at risk through Sisters Inside.

They have written and produced for Adelaide Fringe FestivalBrisbane FestivalInternational Magdalena Festival and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. In 2019 they performed in the sell-out season of Natives Go Wild at the Opera House, which was conceived and written by Rhoda Roberts.

For the last seven years Beau has worked as the Manager and Head of Indigenous Programs at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Working collaboratively with communities, artists and art centres throughout Australia and internationally, they have curated innovative exhibitions and programs and sourced exciting new works intertwining the traditional with the contemporary to explore First Nations culture. Their exhibition Gapu-Monuk Saltwater; Journey to Sea Country, has been a major award-winner including; International Museums and Heritage Award for International Project of the Year in 2019, Museums and Galleries National Award for Indigenous project or Keeping Place in 2018, and the International Design and Communications Award for Best Scenography for a Temporary Exhibition in 2018.

Beau James will commence in the position on Monday 7 June.

For media information, please contact:

Julia Barnes
Senior Communications Manager
0402 678 589

Ying-Di Yin
Communications Manager 
0432 159 645